Mission Support

Dr. Neil Johnson - Fermi LAT Deputy PI for Instrument / Observatory Operations
Photo of Dr. Neil Johnson Dr. W. Neil Johnson is the Head of the High Energy Space Environment Branch in the Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Space Science Division, Washington, D.C., and is the Deputy Principal Investigator for Instrument / Observatory Operations for the Large Area Telescope (LAT) on Fermi.

Dr. Johnson’s areas of scientific specialization include detection and study of high energy signatures – x-ray, gamma-ray and particle – in astrophysical objects as well as terrestrial and near earth environments. His research has been directed toward the development and deployment of more sensitive detector systems and techniques to understand the X-ray and gamma-ray emissions of astronomical objects.

Dr. Johnson joined Fermi in 1995 during the early development and test of instrument concepts for the LAT. He led the international team that included the U.S., France and Sweden, that designed and built the Calorimeter subsystem for the LAT. The calorimeter’s principal job is to measure the energy of the gamma rays captured by LAT but it is also important in identifying and removing background radiation.

Dr. Johnson joined the Space Science Division at NRL in 1973. His research resulted in the development of a series of balloon-borne and space experiments observing the sun, our galaxy and beyond in hard x-rays thru gamma rays. This includes experiments on NASA’s HEAO-1, SMM, and Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the U.S. Department of Defense’s ARGOS mission. Most of this research was in the hard X-ray and medium energy gamma ray range studying nuclear line emissions from the plane of our Galaxy and nearby Supernovae, and studying the gamma ray characteristics of X-ray binaries, black holes and Seyfert Galaxies.

Dr. Johnson has served on numerous NASA scientific advisory and review panels. He is a member of the American Astronomical Society and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

In 1967, Johnson received a Bachelors of Arts in Mathematics and Physics from Rice University in Houston, Texas. He also received a Master’s Degree in Space Science (1972) and Ph. D. in Space Science (1973) from Rice.

Neil lives in Alexandria, VA where he and his wife raised two daughters and currently enjoy five grandchildren.